Out of the 441 athletes appearing in the 2024 WJSC, a total of 37 athletes are surfing in both the U/16 and U/18 divisions. 18 boys, representing 13 national teams, and 19 girls, representing 14 national teams, will potentially have a long journey ahead as they juggle heats across two divisions that feature a variety of ages and talent and two different podiums that involve contrasting waves.

Five girls out of the 19 were able to make it through Main Event Round 1 in both divisions, Ocea Green (CAN), Siqi Yang (CHN), Tya Zebrowski (FRA), Catalina Zariquiey (PER) and Kahili Simon (TAH). Zebrowski and Yang once again had strong showings today, each posting scores in the excellent 8-point range in their respective U/16 heats, while Zariquiey collected the highest single wave score of the day for the girls, a 9.30, along with the highest heat total, 16.47. Though the 15-year-old Peruvian likely has a long few days ahead of her, she has been able to pick up notable wins in each of her three heats surfed so far.

“I’m super happy,” Zariquiey said. “There’s really good waves here and I love it here. This is like the fifth time I think I am here in this country, it’s amazing. I’m super happy to be competing in both divisions and I’m super confident. It was awesome (to get the 9.30). The wave was amazing, it was a big wave and it felt incredible to catch that wave.”

Meanwhile, only a single boy out of the 18 was able to accomplish the same feat, Romeo Chavez (COL). Not only did Chavez make it through Round 1 in both divisions, today the 15-year-old made it through Round 2 in both, surfing two heats barely 40 minutes apart, first in U/18 at El Sunzal and then in U/16 at La Bocana, earning 8-point rides in both locations. He even had to go through the ordeal of breaking his leash at El Sunzal.

“It wasn’t easy, it was tough,” Chavez said. “The main thing I had to focus on was knowing that I have the surfing and believe in myself in order to be able to do it. I did break my leash at El Sunzal, so that made it even harder, but just knowing that I was able to accomplish what I accomplished over there gave me the confidence to come over here and just surf the heat, especially when I was already in rhythm and kind of in that place where my body was already in transition of competing. So that made it way easier. But in the end it just comes down to my equipment and the confidence that I have in my surfing.”

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